Truth and Reconciliation
On the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, we are sharing a guest blog post by Bob Joseph, a Gwawaenuk Nation member, President of Indigenous Corporate Training, and author of 21 Things You May Not Know about the Indian Act.
We do not want to let this important day pass without acknowledging why it exists in the first place; learning more from survivors, descendants of survivors, and Indigenous educators; and responding by taking action. We hope you will join us.
Orange is the New Symbol of Truth & Reconciliation
The recent discoveries of 215 unmarked graves at a former Residential School near Kamloops, British Columbia and subsequent discoveries at other Residential Schools has brought the issue of Truth and Reconciliation sharply back into focus. While most Canadians were made aware of the excesses and degradations visited upon Indigenous children through such announcements as Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Statement of Apology in 2008, the Idle No More movement, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission with its 94 calls to action, few non-Indigenous people knew just how horrendous these “schools” were.
The discovery of these graves has brought these horrors into sharp focus, and moved the hearts of people across the country and around the world. But while continuing revelations about Residential Schools and the Sixties Scoop prompted the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the need for reconciliation goes deeper still.
It is vital to understand what Truth and Reconciliation is, and what it isn’t. At its core, it is about mutual respect between Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous people. It is a way forward in which everyone can achieve their potential as individuals and as communities. It is a way forward where new relationships can be forged.
“In order for [reconciliation] to happen, there has to be awareness of the past, an acknowledgement of the harm that has been inflicted, atonement for the causes, and action to change behaviour.”
– Truth & Reconciliation Commission
Non-Indigenous people in Canada may not have a comprehensive understanding of what Indigenous Peoples mean when we use these terms.
- A process
- About working towards solidarity as a society and country
- The responsibility of every Canadian
- Honouring treaties
- Acknowledging and respecting Indigenous rights and title
- Acknowledging and letting go of negative perceptions and stereotypes
- Acknowledging the past and ensuring that history never repeats
- Learning about Indigenous history
o Recognizing the inter-generational impacts of colonization, attempts at assimilation, and cultural genocide
o Recognizing the critical roles, Indigenous Peoples have held in the creation of Canada, their contributions to two world wars to protect Canada
- Taking responsibility as a person, a parent, an employee, an employer to:
o Never utter, accept, or ignore a racist comment
o Never utter, accept, or ignore a statement that includes a stereotype about Indigenous Peoples
- Respect for:
o Indigenous individuals
- Recognition and support of the deep connections Indigenous Peoples have to the land.
- Supporting the reclamation of identity, language, culture, and nationhood
- Healing for all Canadians
- Good people doing good things
- Building relationships
- Never giving up despite setbacks
- An opportunity to move forward
- A commitment to taking a role and assuming responsibility in working towards a better future for every Canadian
Reconciliation is not:
- A trend
- A single gesture, action, or statement
- A box to be ticked
- About blame
- About guilt
- About the loss of rights for non-Indigenous Canadians
- Someone else’s responsibility
Join us on September 30
On this National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, we invite our non-Indigenous brethren to show your support by wearing an orange shirt or hat, or jacket or scarf or whatever. You can also encourage your employees, your colleagues, your co-workers and your friends and family to be a part of this.
We also invite you learn more about Truth & Reconciliation in other tangible ways:
Take a Personal Pledge of Reconciliation and encourage others to take it as well.
Enrol in our Reconciliation 101 course to understand fully the past, the present and the future of relations between Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous Canadians.
Orange is the colour of reconciliation. Orange is the new symbol of Truth.
Reproduced with the permission of Robert P Joseph, President of Indigenous Corporate Training Inc. www.ictinc.ca.